Just like people, seeds and bulbs have needs that must be met in order for them to thrive and grow. Show kids a variety of seeds and bulbs, explaining that this is where most plants come from. To help kids understand more about planting seeds and bulbs, allow them to grow some of their own in paper cups filled with soil. Be sure to poke holes in the bottoms of the cups for drainage. Give kids the responsibility for watering and observing the growth of their plants. You could even have them draw pictures of the plants as they grow.
There’s nothing better than watching a child’s curiosity grow right alongside their favorite plants.
What is a seed?
Most plants come from seeds. Seeds come in all shapes, sizes, and types. They can be small, like radishes, medium, like marigolds, or large, like sunflowers. Seeds from flowering plants have seed coats to protect them. Seeds remain dormant (asleep) until they are given soil, water, and light. Although warmth is usually required for a seed to germinate and grow, this varies depending on the type of seed. Not all seeds are dependent on sunlight for germination. However, the amount of light does greatly affect it. Explain how different plants require different light and why.
They begin to awaken as water is absorbed. As this water is taken in, the seed’s protective coat expands, eventually splitting open to allow oxygen inside. The plant’s root is the first to emerge from the seed and anchors the plant within the soil. The root also enables it to absorb much needed water and nutrients. Next, the young shoot begins to grow, and soon afterward, it will develop its first real leaves. Once the seedling has sprouted its new leaves, the plant is able to begin making its own food. This is done through a process called photosynthesis.
Seed Planting Activities
Look inside a seed, such as an apple seed. Identify the plant parts, explain where seeds come from and how they grow. Have kids create a chart of a seed. Label the seed coat, root, leaves, and so on. Flipping through seed catalogs is a good way for kids to learn about the different kinds of seeds. Encourage kids to become seed detectives. Show them how to identify, collect, and save their own seeds. Discuss their growing requirements, like oxygen, soil, light, and water. Sprout a seed, such as a bean or sunflower, in a clear plastic cup.
Likewise, you could show them how to plant them directly into the ground by making Seed Tape. This is a fun way to plant seeds and perfect for little hands. Simply mix a tablespoon of flour in a small paper cup and slowly add water until it thickens into a glue-like paste. Then take a paper towel and cut it into 1-inch strips. Mark an “X” on each strip noting the seed’s proper spacing requirement (for example, every inch or so). For each space, add a small amount of the glue mixture and top it off with your seeds. Plant the seed tape, cover with soil, and water.
What is a bulb?
Some plants grow from other means, such as bulbs. Bulbs are simply underground masses of food storage from which plants grow. Bulbs, like seeds, are also available in different sizes, shapes, and types. True bulbs, such as tulips, onions, and daffodils, contain a complete miniature plant inside. They have fleshy scales of food that nourish the plant.
Corms, like crocuses and dahlias, are customized stems that contain food. They have eyes, or buds, from which the plant grows.
Tubers (sometimes called tuberous roots), such as begonias, potatoes, and lilies, are similar to corms but larger and fleshier. These underground stems store food with eyes located on the surface.
Rhizomes, like irises, are another type of bulb-like structure. These stems are horizontal (sideways), growing at or just below the soil surface.
Bulb Planting Activities
An easy way to teach kids about planting bulbs is to offer different bulbous plants for them to examine. Cut them open and allow kids to see their insides. Tulips, daffodils, irises, hyacinths, onions, crocuses, and lilies are good bulb choices for beginners. Help kids plant their own, either directly in ground or by using a container. As with seeds, discuss their growing habits and requirements. Don’t forget to discuss how the seasons affect plant growth. For instance, there are spring blooming, summer blooming, and sutumn blooming bulbs. Each requires a different planting time. For example, spring-flowering bulbs are planted in the autumn.